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The road to making zero-emission waterborne transport a reality

An EU-funded project brings various initiatives and stakeholders together in pursuit of greener waterborne transport segments in the EU.

Transport and Mobility icon Transport and Mobility
Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

Our oceans, seas, and other waterways provide numerous benefits, including regulating our climate and providing us with food and energy. They are also an essential transport route for trade. Today, waterborne transport moves approximately 90 % of global trade, accounting for 3 % of global CO2 emissions - similar to air transport. It is expected that these figures will increase due to growing global trade. Because of this, along with the adopted European Green Deal, there is a real need for impactful reforms to waterborne transport. Meeting this need is the EU-funded STEERER project. “We set out to coordinate the establishment and communication of a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda and an Implementation Plan towards zero-emission waterborne transport in cooperation with all key stakeholders needed to facilitate the transformation to clean waterborne transport,” explains Jaap Gebraad, project coordinator. STEERER not only focused on cutting greenhouse gas emissions but also on reducing all harmful environmental emissions, including water pollution and noise emissions. It further looked at the transition of existing shipping and vessels newly built, and how they fit in with expected zero-emission performance by 2050.

A combined effort with the maximum impact

The project facilitated the establishment of a joint vision on the needs for research, development, and innovation to transform waterborne transport into a zero-emission mode of transport. “One of the key deliverables has been the report which details the available carbon budget for the waterborne transport sector to comply with international climate targets,” confirms Gebraad. “In addition, STEERER has made a substantial contribution to the launch and ongoing activities of the new partnership between the European Commission and the waterborne transport sector: the Co-Programmed Partnership on Zero-Emission Waterborne Transport in the framework of Horizon Europe,” outlines Gebraad. The partnership aims to provide and demonstrate zero-emission solutions for all main ship types and services before 2030, which, among other things, will enable zero-emission waterborne transport before 2050. “Furthermore, the project established a network of experts, called the Green Shipping Expert Group, which will come together on a regular basis to provide the partnership with advice,” says Gebraad. The Green Shipping Expert Group consists of experts from the broader waterborne transport sector, and representatives of the European Commission. It is central to the project’s activities. “Finally, we looked at the actions needed to be able to deploy results of RD&I as soon as possible,” adds Gebraad. Other project public deliverables can be found on their website.

Committing to zero-emissions

“The key overall result of the project is gaining the commitment of the broader waterborne transport sector to deliver solutions to the benefit of future generations,” emphasises Gebraad. The sector is moving forward at an incredible speed, in a complex international environment. Looking towards the future, Gebraad concludes: “The project laid the foundations for the research agenda of the Co-Programmed Partnership on Zero-Emission Waterborne Transport in Horizon Europe, which is expected to be finalised by 2030. In that sense, what STEERER has achieved will still be used for a number of years.”


STEERER, zero-emission, waterborne transport, Green Shipping Expert Group, Co-Programmed Partnership on Zero-Emission waterborne transport, green deal

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